THE BLOG

Random Acts of Kindness Define Who We Really Are

11/01/2016 02:40 pm ET

Watching the news, watching the divisiveness caused by the elections and watching interactions in our daily lives, we realize we are living in very scary times. And everything we see and experience is amplified in the eyes of our children.

Children learn by watching adults. According to Love to Know, babies and toddlers learn by observing adults, even when we aren't intentionally trying to teach them anything. Just watch as the toddler picks up any object and pretends to talk on it just like their parents are talking on their phone. You can teach your child to mimic loving behavior by being affectionate and making sure you accept their affection when they are ready. At the same time, if the adult cusses or throws things, watch how the child is quick to imitate. Preschool years are when children make a big jump in language imitating the way their adults talk and the words they use, meaning these kids pick up on our tone of voice and the use of grammar. This is also the time they learn what to eat, so if parents routinely eat a variety of healthy foods, so will the kids, and on the other hand if adults eat junk food and fast food, this instills that pattern of eating with the child.

Adults can create positive modeling behaviors in kids. Read often to your child and let your child see you reading, which will make reading a healthy and normal part of everyday life. Use polite words and speak kindly to others in front of the kids. Let your children see you doing the chores you expect them to do. Explain the consequences when you make a mistake so the child sees the results of negative behaviors. If the parent ends up doing good deeds, watch the kids starting to do good deeds.

"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like there's nobody listening, and live like it's heaven on earth," which is a quote from William Purkey, a public school teacher. Small acts of kindness, according to Happify Daily, like leaving a meal for a homeless person or paying off a stranger's layaway balance at Kmart, start trends with more people getting in on the act because they are such feel good stories. The benefactors are happy to have done a good deed and the recipients are pleased to have been given a small but meaningful helping hand. According to James Fowler, a professor at UC San Diego, his studies have found that recipients of kindness want to keep paying it forward and a single act of kindness inspires more acts of generosity, which now has a scientific name for this chain of altruism known as "upstream reciprocity". So the next time you drop a quarter into an expired parking meter, there is a good chance the recipient of that small act of kindness will be inspired to do a kind act for someone else, and on and on.

Fowler also says that since humans often mimic behavior they see in the media, like generosity, they become inspired to be generous on their own often starting their own chain of giving. That is why role models like sports figures, politicians, movie stars and rock stars can inspire a wave of giving ... at the same time these same role models who give off negative vibes, can have an adverse effect on our psychic and kindness to others.

One such celebrity for the positive, former NBA star Derek Anderson started the Stamina Foundation, which is teaching young adults how to do acts of kindness. Last month he held his acts of kindness gala at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, which seems the best place on earth to hold this event based on how Muhammad Ali had such an influence on the youth of America. But you don't have to be famous to set an example of kindness. CBS News reports about Jesse Frank in Las Vegas, who lived on the streets in Houston before joining the Air Force. As an active airman, he has started the B-Kind organization where he and his family help a homeless person each month get back on their feet, with help from local businesses like the barbershop, eye doctor and dentist. What goes around comes around ...

If you can't come up with your own idea of an act of kindness, there are plenty of nonprofits you can donate to that have the right ideas. At Random Acts, your donations provide laptops to hardworking students, funding for dental supplies, purchasing flea medication for pet shelters and helping Haiti. Even in the sixteenth largest charity, the American Red Cross, you can donate blood and money to help people you don't know in the path of Hurricane Matthew. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, you can nominate a nonprofit or individual who has demonstrated an act of kindness, to share in our $5,000 product giveaway.

Random acts of kindness come in all forms. Just giving someone an unsolicited compliment today will put a smile on both of your faces. Teaching a stranger how to tie his tie or bringing lunch to a neighbor coming out of the hospital brightens both of your days. Thanking a police officer or fire fighter for their service, just picking up the trash in a public park or offering to baby sit for a single mom just feels right. If we show compassion, our kids will show compassion. What we give to others in our lifetime defines who we really are. And never forget that our kids are always watching us ...

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